Expanding Itemization


I think everyone pretty much agree it’s time for more new items. What I want to talk about today is what those items should be and how they should be designed.

The most common sentiment I see on the forums is that we need “bruiser items”. In short, I agree we need items that work better for melee heroes and damage dealing front-lines , but that designing items for one specific set of heroes is not how VG has ever handled itemization. Rather, the overall items pool needs to favor hyper-carry ranged heroes, and full utility heroes less.

Some other goals are to:

  • Increase mechanical skill cap with more active items, specifically for non utility heroes who lack playmaking item options.
    note: there should still be easy to use item options, which is something VG lacked in the past. High skill cap items like Aegis were the only option which imo hurts the game overall

  • Increase strategic skill cap, specifically in regard to defense and piercing items, as well as counter building in general.

  • Create a meaningful difference between early, and late game items.

  • When trying to achieve these things, add as few items as possible, and keep them as simple as possibly. Strategic complexity is a good admirable goal, but overall complexity serves no purpose except to confuse new players.


These are adjustments to existing items are think are necessary. Won’t list numbers here, simply because they will always vary from patch to patch.

  • Reduce non pierce stats of pierce items. As it stands, buying pierce is more or less automatic, even against enemies who lack heavy defense. In my opinion this is partially because heroes in VG have high base armor/shield, but mainly because these items have too efficient stats beyond the now massive amount of pierce they grant.

  • Heavily increase the armor/shield values of Metal Jacket, and Celestial Shroud, the cost may need to go up as well. These should be the items that when encountered demand piercing purchased. Why does Slumbering Husk provide almost as much both armor and shield, and significantly more overall?

  • Increase the cost, and slightly increase the stats of Tyrants Monocle, Breaking Point, Dragons Eye, Sorrowblade and Shatterglass. These items I consider the big late game damage scalers. In my opinion their should be a clear divide between your big late game items, and good value early game items. As it stands heroes building full damage can have their cake and eat it too.

  • Reduce the cost, and overall stats of Shiversteel. Related to the last point, shiversteel makes a lot of sense as a early game focused item, as it loses potency late game anyway.


To commit to my goal of keeping things as simple and streamlined as possible, I have limited myself to 4 new items. Don’t look at these as much as direct suggestions to SEMC as much as the direction I think additional items should go.

Spinehide Coat - 2200
build path: Warmail, Piercing Shard, Piercing Spear

Armorbreaker: +20%

Shieldbreaker: +20%

Passive: After you have received a total of 40% of your max HP + 500 damage from enemy heroes each life, gain +8% base move speed, become immune to slows, and the active becomes available.

Active: Clear received damage. Fire 1 spine to up to 3 of the nearest enemy heroes within 8 meters. Each spine deals 10 - 150 (levels 1-12) weapon damage + 120% weapon ratio and + 150% crystal ratio. 5s cooldown.

+35 armor
+35 shield
+15 weapon power
+20 crystal power

Berserker’s Axe - 1900
build path: Six Sins, Blazing Salvo

Active: Drain 12% of your max HP over the next 6 seconds. During this period basics attacks heal you 8-20 (levels 1-8), and deal an additional 10-50 weapon damage (levels 1-8). 22s cooldown.

+20% attack speed
+45 weapon power

Nether Spear - 1900
build path: Eclipse Prism, Piercing Spear

shieldbreaker: +15%

Passive: Whenever you kill an enemy hero, heal 30-180 (levels 1-8), and gain a burst of 1.5 move speed over 4 seconds.

+45 crystal power

Glistening Veil - 2300
build path: Coat of Plates, Kinetic Shield

passive: reduce the duration of movement impairing effects by 15%

active: cleanse all movement impairing effects. 60 second cooldown.

+45 armor
+45 shield

You may skip everything from this point onward. This is merely my explanation of the new items, as well as some other thoughts.

The idea behind Spinehide Coat is create an item which suits heroes who want to get into the enemy team. Unlike Pulseweave which serves a similar role for tanky utility heroes, this item scales with weapon and crystal power, and grants armor and shield pierce. One key reason it grants pierce is because of how difficult it is for melee’s to fit defense or pierce or defense into their builds early on. Buying an item like Bonesaw, or Aegis in the first 15m of the game means sacrificing any hope of having comparable damage to a ranged carry.

Berserker’s Axe, and Nether Spear’s roles are quite simple. Provide early game power that suits the playstyle of weapon and crystal paths. Berserker’s Axe helps win sustained duels, and greatly increases dps at least early on. Nether Spear suits the hero that wants to go in, secure kills, and get out alive.

Glistening Veil is a simple answer to wading into the enemy team, and dying before you are able to do anything. Important note: this item has no effect on negative effects that do not prevent movement. Trying to prevent a silence, Ringo burn, or Atlas debuff, or prevent a an interrupt from interrupting your adagio ult? This item can’t help you. This is not an Aegis replacement, just expanded options to deal with crowd control.

You will notice these defense items seem somewhat over powered, this is because in my opinion defense is just is not very good value at the moment. Especially once all players have a pierce item, having 2 defense items seems to have no merit. This is why I think the nerf to peirce items is so important, as well as introducing items that have lower values (since peirce does not stack). You should only blow through defense like it is nothing if you actually opt into the big peirce items, thus opting out of a higher damage output from other items. Also, I admit I failed my simplicity goal.